"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away?"

Author: Unknown

Monday, August 13, 2012

Canning Navy Beans an Ham

      Another first for me. Canning dried navy beans. When I first heard of this, I admit it didnt make sense to me. couldnt understand why someone would take a product with a very long shelf life as it is and can it. But then I thought about it again. How many times had we wanted soup beans and cornbread, but not think about it till later in the day.? Then it made sense. If I forgot to start them early enough we could still have beans at a moments notice. We had them tonight for supper to test my product, and the soup bean eaters all gave a thumbs up. All two of us. Me and my husband. My son wont even try them. Below describes how I did them.
                                                         Soup Beans and Ham
approx 3 lbs dried navy beans
6  heaping TB chopped onion
6 heaping TB ketchup (might use a little more next time)
6 tsp salt. (a little too much for me. next time will reduce to about 1/2 tsp for each of the 6 jars , and add
          more if needed when heating)
approx 6 cups chopped ham
6 quart jars, lids and rings

1. Pour beans into a pot and cover with plenty of water. Let beans soak over night.
2. The next morning heat beans to boiling and boil 2 minutes.
3. Pour 1 cup ham into the bottom of each jar.
4. Pour in beans to just below shoulder of jars, about 2.5" below rim.
5. Pour in 1 Tb of onion.
6 Place in 1 TB of ketchup.
7. Add 1 tsp ( or less , to taste).
8. Pour boiling water over everything leaving 1" head space.
9. Pull lids from simmering water and place one on each jar after cleaning rims well.
10. Hand tighten rings.
11. Process according to altitude for 90 minutes. I am about 800 feet altitude so i used 10 lbs pressure on my canner.
12. Then when ready to eat, just heat and serve.

I served with a warm pan of corn bread, fried potatoes, and canned peaches

Note to self.......

      This is just a note to myself for next year. I know my memory, and sometimes its not the best.  When canning season comes around next year, and I get the bright idea to try and put corn up again, someone PLEASE lock me in my room. I am serious. The canning bug has gotten to me this yr, and I am trying to preserve a lot of different things. I have never done corn before. I have done green beans, jams,deer, and even raw pack chicken. But NEVER again to corn. I had a mess everywhere . The silk wasnt too bad. Got it cleaned up with  a few quick swipes of the broom. Then it came time to cut it off the cob. it was on my face, in my hair, on my shirt, up my arms, all over the counter top, and a mess in the floor at my feet. Oh i forgot to mention my feet. Not to mention stepping on it as I stood at the counter,lol. Even my usual clean-up crew, the two maltese on my side-bar, ran for cover.        
           "But you love corn" I tried to remind them. 
Calling for them several times while I stood on that sticky mess. They would come and sniff, and quickly leave. not a bite taken.
 "Remember when I held a partial buttered ear for you while you quickly nibbled the moist buttery goodness."
 "You loved it then", I pleaded.
 They are usually so good about cleaning up messes. Waiting at my feet for me to drop something accidently, or on purpose. It was no use. I had to pull up my big girl britches and work my way thru the mess. it was only 24 ears, but it sure seemed like a 100. I was going to can it in pints, but I just wanted to get it over with, so just bagged it up in a zip lock baggy for freezing.
These measly 8 bags better taste like CHOCOLATE after all this.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Canning Praline Syrup

          Well I decided to do something a little special for my hard-working husband today. When i got home from grocery shopping, I made  some Praline syrup. I canned 3 half pint jars of it to be exact. I have never made anything like this before, but when I stumbled upon it on the web, I knew he would love it. he loves pecan pie and butter pecan ice cream. So I figured this was right up his alley. If he gives it the thumbs up, then I will make him some more. I have a bucket of vanilla ice cream waiting for him in the freezer.
Just look at all those delicious  meaty pecans at the top.
 The recipe for the Praline Syrup can be found HERE.

Preserving Cucumbers in the Freezer

I absolutely love cucumbers. Especially this year. i have been craving them all summer. Eating them dipped in ranch dressing, or dipped in italian dressing. eating them for late breakfast, lunch, or evening snack. Whenever the mood hits for something cool, crunchy and refreshing.  no, i am NOT pregnant. Definitely NOT! 
Several times this summer my local grocery store has been ut of them. sometimes for two weeks. Must be a lot of other cucumber lovers out there too. I have a bunch planted in the garden, but I am just now starting to get some to eat. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out if there was anyway I could preserve them for fresh eating this winter without  having to buy them. I like pickles and sometimes eat them for snacks, but thats not what I have been craving. Then one day i happened onto a recipe for freezing these guys in a solution of vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Supposedly they still come out of the freezer crunchy. I had my doubt however. So I asked my daughter-in-laws mother, who is an excellent cook, if she had ever heard of doing them this way. She said she had and that they were indeed still crunchy when defrosted. 
A few days ago, I had a couple ready to eat from the garden, plus supplemented with a store bought. I needed to fill a 16 z plastic container. Everything went together very quickly. I put them straight in the freezer. Then 24 hrs later, I decided to pull them out and give them a try. Once defrosted, they were absolutely delightful. Slightly sweet, crunchy, cool and refreshing. I didnt stop till I had them half gone. Anyway,  When hubby cam home I had him  try them. I knew it would take a little coaxing. he is like a child sometimes when it comes to trying new things. but we wont discuss that any further.
I remembered his mother used to make them fresh and serve them in mix of 50/50 vinegar and water. he loved them that way. so i figured that was close enough to mom's.
Low and behold....he liked them. He really liked them 

I dont know where I got the recipe from online, so I am sorry for not being able t give credit. But here it is:

                                                    FROZEN CUCUMBER PICKLES   
1 lb. Kirby or pickling cucumbers, sliced (4 c.)
2 c. thinly sliced onions
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cider vinegar
3 tsp. water
1 c. sugar
Combine cucumbers, onions, salt and water in glass bowl. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Add sugar and vinegar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pack mixture lightly into 2 - 1pint freezer containers or jars, leaving 1 inch space at top. Cover tightly and freeze overnight or up to 6 weeks. Thaw at room temperature 4 hours. Refrigerate any leftovers up to 1 week. Makes 4 cups.
NOTE: Very good!!! The pickles stay crisp after thawing, even left over in the refrigerator.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Indecent Exposure!

  Those ladies are at it again. In my front yard, naked as a jaybird, as us country folk say. They left their clothes lay on the ground in early spring, and disappeared. Now they are back, for the whole world to see. I have to admit, they are gorgeous. Even with their beautiful ink-stained faces. They always make me smile.
Lycoris Squamigera
Naked Ladies

And here are their clothes that they just casually threw to the ground this spring:

I had forgotten about mine again, until I was out in the front yard checking on my new apple tree, and turned around, and there they were. I love them.  They were given to me by my husbands aunt. She dug them from an old farmhouse. I just have the one small clump but it keeps getting fuller every year. The flowers get about 20" tall, and come back every year reliably in my zone 6b garden. They are also called Magic Lily, and Resurrection Lily. I like Naked Ladies, lol. So much funner.

Another First

     Last night I tried canning chicken for the first time. I had canned deer stew many many yrs ago. About 34 to be more precise. The first yr we were married. I hadn't done meat since. Well last night I was reading on several different blogs about canning cooked chicken by hot pack and raw chicken by raw pack. I also found a link for the USDA guidelines HERE. Doing raw pack seemed so much quicker and it was late  in the evening when I got back with about 8 lbs split chicken breasts that I bought for .99/lb. I figured wrong and thought it would do more jars than it did. I only got 6 small pints. But its cooked and ready to go for chicken salad sandwiches, or creamed chicken on biscuits. I usually buy the cans in the store for almost $3 / can. I figure one pint is easily equal to 2 cans of meat. The chicken made its own broth but next time I will add about 1/2 jar of water to help it out more. Here is how I did it:
1. cut up your chicken into chunks. I have also read about putting whole peices in.
2. Sterilize jars and lids, keeping lids warm.
3. Fill your jars with the raw chicken.
4. I placed a tsp of chicken bouillon on top. Some do this some dont, some just add a tsp of salt.
5. For test purposes, and because we like garlic, I also placed about 1/8 tsp of garlic salt on top.
6. Pour about 1/2 jar of sterilized water into jar. ( I didnt this time, but will the next)
7. Clean rims thoroughly. Some clean with a little bit of white vinegar, then dry.
8. Apply lids and hand tighten rings.
9. Place in canner with water, and process according to your towns elevation. Mine was 10 lbs for 75 minutes for pints.

Correction: I was informed by an experienced canner that any time you
pressure can or BWB for 10 minutes or more there is no need to
"sterilize" the jars. There is possibly the need to warm the jars to
prevent thermal shock and breakage but no need to "sterilize".
This tip came from someone on yahoo groups " canning2".

UPDATE: I just opened a pint of this chicken because my husband wanted chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. This chicken turned out fabulous! So moist, and flaked like a dream. Tasted soo much better than the store canned. I also figured up the price. Not counting electricity or costs of the jars since they are re-usable. I bought about 8 lbs. It should do about 5 pints "packed". This equals out to about 3 cans of the store chicken after it shrinks from cooking. So it equals about $1.60 per pint, or about  .53 cents per can. So much cheaper than the almost $3 per can I pay in the store. But more importantly, much better quality and taste. Also figured out the slightly darkened areas on the top are just from the chicken bullion. Next time I probably wont use it, or at least mix it with the  water first.